Industrial relations under an Australian state Labor government : the Hanlon government in Queensland 1946-1952

Blackmur, Douglas (1986). Industrial relations under an Australian state Labor government : the Hanlon government in Queensland 1946-1952 PhD Thesis, School of History, Philosophy, Religion, and Classics, The University of Queensland.

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Author Blackmur, Douglas
Thesis Title Industrial relations under an Australian state Labor government : the Hanlon government in Queensland 1946-1952
School, Centre or Institute School of History, Philosophy, Religion, and Classics
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 1986
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Open Access Status File (Publisher version)
Supervisor Denis Murphy
Paul Crook
Total pages 438
Language eng
Subjects 360101 Australian Government and Politics
Formatted abstract
       An analysis of the dynamics of industrial relations in Queensland in the reconstruction years after World War II is the principal concern of this thesis. Broadly speaking, the years 1946 to 1952 define the reconstruction period. Australian Labor Party governments under the premiership of E.M. Hanlon occupied the treasury benches during this time. The thesis explores the nature and performance of the Labor party's model of industrial peace; the origins, character and consequences of two of the most significant industrial disputes in Australian industrial relations history which occurred in Queensland in the reconstruction years; the responses of the Labor party and other groups to these disputes; and the philosophies and policies of organised Capital. All of these matters are examined against the background of a detailed analysis of the international, national and local social, political and economic context.

      The Introduction specifies in greater detail the purposes and themes pursued in this thesis. It draws attention to issues of fundamental importance to the Labor party, the Australian Communist Party, trade unions and employer organisations. It also contains a literature review and a broad statement of the methodological principles which have guided the study. Chapter 1 defines the international and national context, while Chapter 2 and Chapter 3 employ a partly thematic, partly chronological approach to illuminate the local political, social and economic context of developments in industrial relations in Queensland in the reconstruction period. Chapter 4 provides an analysis of the Labor party's preferred model for the conduct of industrial relationships. It investigates the policies of the Queensland Industrial Court, the government's industrial relations legislation and the responses within the labour movement to the performance of this arbitration-legislation model in the early postwar years.

      Four chapters are then devoted to a discussion of the first major challenge in almost twenty years to the Labor party's policy of industrial peace. Attention is focussed on the causes, course, character, consequences and significance of the 1946 Meat Industry Dispute. Chapter 5 argues that this dispute can only be understood in terms of the industrial relations history of the meat industry, and only when the aspirations and beliefs of all those concerned with industrial relationships in the industry are taken into account. Chapter 6 traces the development of an increasingly wide and complex dispute. It reveals changes in the objectives and tactics of the participants over time. Chapter 7 continues in this vein. It documents the efforts by the unions to seize the initiative in the dispute and provides a clear picture of the roles played by the government, the employers, the press and the Communist party. Chapter 8 examines the impact of the dispute on the various parties. It looks at its effect on union attitudes to direct action, especially to long, industry-wide strikes. It discusses employer moves to consolidate their gains from the dispute as well as the lessons learned by the Communist party. A principal outcome of the dispute was the decision taken by the Labor party to intervene in the internal affairs of trade unions by both organisational and legislative means. The chapter argues that the development of official Labor party industrial groups in Queensland, and several aspects of a major revision to The Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration Act, must be understood as responses to the meat dispute.

      The 1948 Railway Dispute is analysed in the same general fashion. Chapter 9 emphasises the importance of an historical perspective in understanding both the outbreak and course of the dispute. It pays particular attention to the role of the Communist party, union attitudes to the Queensland Industrial Court and the government's wages policy during 1947. Chapter 10 explores the nature of the dispute and charts the development of what came to be an ideological crusade. Chapter 11 looks at both the immediate and longer term consequences of the dispute with an emphasis on the conclusions drawn by the Communist party, and Labor party decisions to expand its industrial group organisation. The broad pattern of Labor party responses to the challenges to its industrial peace policy is considered in Chapter 12.

      The importance of employer philosophies and policies in an understanding of the texture of industrial relationships is recognised in Chapter 13. The Conclusion offers interpretative comment on the significance of the issues raised throughout the thesis.
Keyword Australia -- Politics and government -- 1945-1965.
Industrial relations -- Australia -- History.
Additional Notes The author has given permission for this thesis to be made open access.

Document type: Thesis
Collections: Queensland Past Online (QPO)
UQ Theses (RHD) - Open Access
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Created: Mon, 28 Sep 2009, 14:31:00 EST by Ms Christine Heslehurst on behalf of Social Sciences and Humanities Library Service